Birders heading offshore out of Hatteras, North Carolina, on Seabirding (Brian Patteson) trips this week have been treated to a host of excellent North Atlantic rarities, highlighted by an ABA Code 4 European Storm-Petrel seen well by all on board on May 31.
Photo by Nate Dias, used with permission
Other notable species seen this week include ABA Code 3s Masked Booby (5/31), Herald (Trindade) Petrel (5/31), Fea's Petrel (5/29. 5/31, still listed on the ABA Checklist as Fea's/Zino's Petrel), White-tailed Tropicbird (5/27), and Red-billed Tropicbird (5/27). More photos and trip lists are available at the Seabirding blog.
Seabirding's Stormy Petrel II, captained by Brian Patteson, is the primary vessel by which birders get offshore in North Carolina. Patteson is currently in the midst of running his annual spring blitz, during which he gets offshore for 15 consecutive days (weather permitting) through this weekend. The rest of his 2012 schedule can be found at Seabirding.com.
As Brian Patteson remarked in Winging It, February 2008, European Storm-Petrel was first recorded in the ABA Area as a photographed bird, east of Cape Hatteras on 27 May 2003. It is still casual, but almost annual off of North Carolina anymore with at least one reported in late May every year since 2007.
It is identified by its small size, white blaze on the underwings, and when in flight, by the the position of its wings, showing a steeper "V" than in Wilson's Storm-Petrel. "Euro's" are square-tailed and short-legged, the feet never projecting behind its tail. European Storm-Petrel is a common storm-petrel of the temperate North Atlantic, breeding on rat-free islands off many coastal European countries, on Mediterranean Islands, and on the Canary Islands.